'Post-Truth? Its pure nonsense' - The Spectator 10 Jun 17

For as long as there have been politicians, they have lied, fabricated and deceived. The manufacture of falsehood has changed over time, as the machinery becomes more sophisticated. Straight lies give way to sinuous spin, and open dishonesty disappears behind Newspeak and Doublethink. However, even if honesty is sometimes the best policy, politics is addressed to people’s opinions, and the manipulation of opinion is what it is all about. Plato held truth to be the goal of philosophy and the ultimate standard that disciplines the soul. But even he acknowledged that people cannot take very much of it, and that peaceful government depends on ‘the noble lie’.

Read the full article here.

The Case for Nations - WSJ, June 17

The ‘we’ of the nation-state binds people together, builds an important legacy of social trust and blunts the sharp edges of globalization.
There is a respectable opinion among educated people that nations are no longer relevant. Their reasoning runs roughly as follows:

We live in an interconnected world. Globalization and the internet have created new networks of belonging and new forms of social trust, by which borders are erased and old attachments vaporized. Yes, we have seen the growth of nationalism in Europe, the Brexit vote in the U.K. and the election of the populist Donald Trump, but these are signs of reactionary sentiments that we should all have outgrown. The nation-state was useful while it lasted and gave us a handle on our social and political obligations. But it was dangerous too, when inflamed against real or imaginary enemies.

In any case, the nation-state belongs in the past, to a society in which family, job, religion and way of life stay put in a single place and are insulated against global developments. Our world is no longer like that, and we must change in step with it if we wish to belong.

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Fight or flight: Strategies for traditional Conservatives - The Economist Mar 17

Does conservatism aim to uphold or to transform society? Across the West, the political right is split. Some conservatives back a status quo of globalised economies and live-and-let-live societies. Others want to upend that open, international order by putting the nation first, socially and economically. There is, however, a third kind of conservatism, represented by two new short books. Its guiding idea is that political problems at root are spiritual. In different ways, Rod Dreher and Roger Scruton suggest that conservatism’s main task is to cure or abandon a sickened culture.

Populism, VII: Representation & the people. The New Criterion Mar 17

Looking back over the events of 2016, liberal-minded commentators are apt to sound a warning against “populism,” a disorder that they observe everywhere on the right of the political spectrum. Populists are politicians who appeal directly to the people when they should be consulting the political process, and who are prepared to set aside procedures and legal niceties when the tide of public opinion flows in their favor. Like Donald Trump, populists can win elections. Like Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, they can disrupt the long-standing consensus of government. Or, like Nigel Farage and the Brexiteers in Britain, they can use the popular vote to overthrow all the expectations and predictions of the political class. But they have one thing in common, which is their preparedness to allow a voice to passions that are neither acknowledged nor mentioned in the course of normal politics. And for this reason, they are not democrats but demagogues—not politicians who guide and govern by appeal to arguments, but agitators who stir the unthinking feelings of the crowd.

To visit the full article, please visit The New Criterion.

The Russian way of lying. Spectator Life Mar 17

Perhaps the most famous paradox discovered by the Greek philosophers is that of ‘the liar’. A Cretan says that all Cretans are liars: if what he says is true, then it is false. More simply, consider: ‘This sentence is false.’ If it is true it is false, if false, true. The ancients took this paradox seriously, since if the concept of truth is inherently contradictory, as the paradox implies, then all discourse, all argument, all rational decision-making, takes place in a void. One ancient philosopher, Philetas of Cos, in his despair at finding a solution, committed suicide. More recently, the great logician Alfred Tarski used the paradox to argue that truth can be defined in a language only through a ‘meta-language’ with an outside vantage-point. In Tarski’s view ‘This sentence is false’ is not a possible sentence. But I have just written it!

To read the full article visit Spectator Life.

Podcast with John J Miller - On Human Nature

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, John J Miller,  Roger explains how his short volume differs from Edward O. Wilson’s influential book of the same name, whether human nature ever changes, and how science has the potential to dehumanize.

Listen here

If We Are Not Just Animals, What Are We? New York Times March 17

Philosophers and theologians in the Christian tradition have regarded human beings as distinguished from the other animals by the presence within them of a divine spark. This inner source of illumination, the soul, can never be grasped from outside, and is in some way detached from the natural order, maybe taking wing for some supernatural place when the body collapses and dies.

Recent advances in genetics, neuroscience and evolutionary psychology have all but killed off that idea. But they have raised the question of what to put in its place. For quite clearly, although we are animals, bound in the web of causality that joins us to the zoosphere, we are not just animals.

Settling down and Marking Time. CUSP essay series on the Ethics of Sustainable Prosperity

Can we create communities that are both prosperous and sustainable? And can we do this while retaining democratic procedures? These are huge questions and, like others who have addressed them, Roger Scruton is by no means convinced that he has a persuasive answer. But an answer is more likely to be found, he argues, in the legacy of conservative thinking, than by adopting the standpoint of the top-down plan.

Is High Culture a Luxury or a Necessity? Country & Townhouse Magazine Dec 2016

Among the abundant luxuries available in our cities today, none is more richly pleasing to the addict or more cheaply obtained than culture. Take London. In the National Gallery you can stand – without paying a penny – before some of the most beautiful works of art ever created. In the Albert Hall, for a few pounds and a bit of queuing, you can listen during the season of Promenade concerts to the greatest orchestras from all over the world. At Covent Garden and the English National Opera you can attend, for a fraction of the real cost, the most extravagant productions of the operatic masterpieces, emerging with your senses so saturated that the champagne supper afterwards tastes of nothing.

To read the full article, please visit The Country & Townhouse website. 

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Recent Books

Souls in the Twilight

Beaufort Books  (October 2018) As the lights that have guided us go out, people begin to wander in the twilight, seeking their place of belonging. In these stories, set in...

Music as an Art

Bloomsbury  (August 2018) Music as an Art begins by examining music through a philosophical lens, engaging in discussions about tonality, music and the moral life, music and cognitive science and German...

Where We Are: The State of Britain Now

Where We Are: The State of Britain Now

Bloomsbury (November 2017) Addressing one of the most politically turbulent periods in modern British history, philosopher Roger Scruton asks how, in these circumstances, we can come to define our identity,...

2018 Events

2019 Events